Bad Tolz, Germany: On my fourth day in Munich I went native. A Bavarian I became, walking the walk though not exactly talking the talk. My visit to Munich coincided with the Kocherballe, or Cook’s Ball, a traditional gathering and socializing of Munich’s domestic staff from 6am to 10am on Sunday mornings. This weekly ball ceased in 1904 because it got a bit raunchy, but the tradition was resurrected decades ago as an annual affair.
Sabina and Thomas (my friends and Munich hosts) and I joined 10,000 other Muncheners on Sunday morning, dressed in dindl and lederhosen respectively. The English Gardens were in full swing by the time we arrived at 7am, with much music, drink, dance and food. All in the wee hours of Sunday morning, when most of the city remained in bed recovering from the night before. The vibe was good and the atmosphere authentic.
With the morning behind us, in the afternoon we set off for …. a bike ride. Along with two other friends who lived in Hong Kong way back when, the five of us enjoyed a picnic in a park near the Isar river. It was a fun Sunday afternoon except when the weather abruptly changed, producing a sudden exodus from the park. We made it back to Sabina and Thomas’ house just before the skies opened up.
After unwinding in Munich, today I got wound up as I continued my little bike ride across this big and frustrating continent. Dreary weather plus navigational and mechanical issues conspired to add too much authenticity to what was supposed to be a leisurely ride to the pretty town of Bad Tolz.
I’ll start with the weather: it would be par for the course for late October – grey, wet, cold – but it is definitely not normal to wear winter clothing in the middle of summer. I am quite used to soggy cycling by now.
Then there’s navigational issues. I intended to take the bike path from Munich to Bad Tolz along the Isar river. This is supposed to be a fine ride. I am sure it is, but wouldn’t know because in trying to stay on the bike path, I somehow got way off piste and did about 50% extra mileage. At one point I decided to just cycle on the roads, until the road I wanted to take had a big sign forbidding bicycles. So I had to hunt down the tiny sign in town pointing to the cycleway.
Oh, but that’s not all. Throw in some mechanical issues, including my only flat tire on this Euro journey. All this right after getting my bike completely serviced in Munich. So much for great German engineering. I had hair-raising issues with both my rear cassette and with a spare spoke, which became lodged in my back wheel. But the real headache was a tiny puncture in my back tire tube.
I will do just about anything to delay changing a bicycle tire. I pumped up (in the rain) the defective tire on two occasions. I shifted much weight to my front rack, and even cycled standing and leaning forward. As I approached the very small town of Bachhausen it became clear that I could not continue like this. Bachhausen is no more than a cluster of a couple douzen homes and the intersection of two roads. As luck goes, I concluded I had to change my tire now just before I passed the Radl-Sepp bike shop – the only bike shop I saw today outside Munich. I didn’t see any other commercial establishments in the tiny town – no restaurants, no bakeries, not even a gasthof — but fortunately, the Oberrieder family runs a neat cycle shop and they fixed me up. Getting lost, I have discovered, did have a silver lining.
I was thrilled when I approached Bad Tolz. While not exactly the promised land, I was relieved to arrive in this little town with a soaring church spire by the Isar river. I treated myself to a plum-cake and coffee, as one does in Bavaria, and then rolled to the family-run Alpenhof Hotel to call it a day.
Only 90 km separate me from Innsbruck. I can’t tell yet whether that’s good news or bad news. We’ll find out tomorrow, that’s for sure.
Day 45: Munich – Bad Tolz, Germany
Distance: 73.92 km
Ascent: 535 meters
Weather: Wet, cold, grey
Total Distance: 3,170.44 km
Total Ascent: 22,698.28 m
Rest Days: 10
Incidents: 2 (flat tire, police)